Decision won't protect Canada from mad cow disease

Decision won't protect Canada from mad cow disease

March 18, 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria) by Darrel and Anthea Archer
We were saddened to see the self-serving letter from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association ("Water buffalo decision necessary," March 13) supporting the destruction of our imported water buffalo to protect Canada from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow" disease).

Canada does not have a BSE-free status. Canada has a Level II rating under the risk assessment prepared by the European Scientific Steering Committee: "Unlikely but not excluded that the presence of one or more cattle clinically or preclinically infected with the BSE agent in a geographic region/country." Two members of the scientific steering committee have confirmed, in writing, that 19 water buffalo imported from a low-risk country, Denmark, have no affect on this Level II rating.

After their first case of BSE in February 2000, Denmark tested 250,000 cattle that were slaughtered for human consumption in 2001 and found six cases.

The scientific steering committee, charged with preparing risk assessments on member countries, states that based upon the number of animals tested Denmark is considered a low-risk country.

Canada tests 900 animals for BSE per year out of 11 million cattle.

Beef producers will concur that low compensation available under the Health of Animals Act is an incentive to bury a sick animal rather than risk losing a whole herd, which is what happened in the U.K. before the seriousness of BSE was realized.

BSE "mad cow disease" is transmitted by rendering sick animals into feed for the dairy and beef industry.

In 1997, Canada prohibited the feeding of cows to cows, yet the Canadian Food Inspection Agency considers the incubation period two to eight years.

Rendered bovines are fed to hogs and chickens which themselves enter the animal feed chain back to bovines, a practice banned in Europe.

Our grass-fed water buffalo will die, an economic opportunity will be lost, we will give up farming, two generations of sustainable agriculture, agri-tourism and dedication to protecting healthy regional food production will be over.

Will we have moved closer to keeping BSE out of Canada?

Water buffalo decision necessary

March 13, 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria) by Rob McNabb
It was not so very many months ago that the media were carrying article after article accusing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) of not doing enough to keep Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") out of Canada.

Now, when the CFIA determines that water buffalo (from the same genetic family as domestic bovines), imported from a country with clinically diagnosed BSE, must be destroyed to maintain Canada's BSE-free status, they are criticized as doing too much. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), representing 100,000 cattle producers across Canada, commends the CFIA for the rational decision they have made on this issue.

Only the water buffalo directly imported from Denmark will be destroyed and tested for BSE.

Those that are pregnant will be allowed to give birth so that the offspring may remain in the importers' herd.

Provided that the tests all come back negative for BSE, the importers will be allowed to build their herd with the offspring of the imported animals.

The importers will be compensated under the Health of Animals Act for all animals destroyed.

CCA supports all efforts to protect the public from the potential hazard of exposure to BSE and any associated hazard that could impact the beef cattle industry in Canada.

In addition to the protection of our domestic consumers of beef, the $3.9-billion export value of beef and beef cattle cannot be put in jeopardy by any doubt that Canada takes all precautions in dealing with these matters.

It's an unfortunate- situation, but entirely necessary.

Rob McNabb,

Assistant Manager,

Canadian Cattlemen's Association,

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